Sonali Phogat, a BJP Position is Not a Ticket to Hit a Govt Official with a Slipper


Sonali Phogat, a BJP Position is Not a Ticket to Hit a Govt Official with a Slipper

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Sonali Phogat is a Bharatiya Janata Party member who was a TikTok influencer before she joined the party, and until Friday, that had been her main claim to fame. Her popularity on TikTok even failed to win her a seat, as she unsuccessfully contested during the 2019 Haryana Assembly Election, making her nothing more than a public face for the party. Now that popularity has failed her, it appears Phogat is going to see how notoriety works out, as a video of her assaulting a government officer with a slipper at a farmers’ market in Haryana is going viral.

Phogat’s reprehensible conduct is another example of how some political leaders think their position and privilege will allow them to get away with behaviour that would land an ordinary citizen in jail. She did not only hit the government officer with her slipper, but also slapped him with her bare hands, in a clear display of entitlement, knowing that her political affiliations would ensure that the man would not be able to defend himself or even react.

This vulgar display by Phogat took place in the presence of Haryana Police officials, and after her shameful act, she had the gall to not press charges after the man she hit apologised to her! Phogat’s claim was that the officer, a member of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee named Sultan Singh, had passed an offensive remark when she approached him with a list of farmers’ complaints. NDTV’s report on the incident states that the term which triggered Phogat’s unjustified and disproportionate reaction was “dramebaaz”.

This stunt by Phogat is quickly turning into an embarrassment for her party, as there is no good reason to assault a government official, let alone over a verbal disagreement. Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala was quick to skewer the state’s BJP government on Twitter, asking whether Haryana’s BJP Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar would take action against Phogat.

Even BJP supporters are finding it difficult to condone Phogat’s behaviour, so it remains to be seen what kind of disciplinary action she faces, if she faces any at all.

In India, it’s just another day, and another story of a politician abusing their power because their ego is outsized.